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BERNARDO v. NLRC
GR.No. 122917; July 12,1999
FACTS
Complainants are 43 deaf-mutes who were hired on various periods from 1988 to 1993 by Far East Bank and
Trust Co. (FEBTC) as Money Sorters and Counters through a uniformly worded agreement called Employment
Contract for Handicapped Workers.
In the contract, the bank agreed to employ and train the employee on how to do their duties and responsibilities
as money sorters and counters. The training shall have a period of one (1) month, after which the bank shall
determine whether or not he/she should be allowed to finish the remaining term of this Contract.
It also stated that since the employee had been employed under a special employment program of the bank, the
standard hiring requirements of the bank were not applied in the employees case. Consequently, the terms and
conditions of employment generally observed by the bank with respect to the banks regular employee are NOT
applicable to the employee. This means that the terms and conditions of the employees employment with the
bank shall be governed solely and exclusively by this Contract and by the applicable rules and regulations that
the DOLE may issue in connection with the employment of disabled and handicapped workers. More specifically,
the provisions of Book Six of the Labor Code as amended, particularly on regulation of employment and
separation pay are NOT applicable to him/her.
The contract shall be for a period of 6 months or unless earlier terminated for any just or reasonable cause. The
contract will automatically expire at the end of its terms unless renewed in writing.
The Complainants contracts were no longer renewed. They then filed a case of illegal dismissal to the LA.
LA and NLRC
The LA and, on appeal, the NLRC ruled against petitioners. Hence, this recourse to this Court.
In affirming the ruling of the LA that petitioners could not be deemed regular employees under Article 280 of the
Labor Code, as amended.
The NLRC also declared that the Magna Carta for Disabled Persons was not applicable, considering the
prevailing circumstances/milieu of the case.
ISSUE
Whether petitioners have become regular employees. --- YES (except 16 who did not work for more than 6
months)
HELD
Petitioners maintain that they should be considered regular employees, because their task as money sorters and
counters was necessary and desirable to the business of respondent bank. They further allege that their
contracts served merely to preclude the application of Article 280 and to bar them from becoming regular
employees.
FEBTC, on the other hand, submits that petitioners were hired only as special workers and should not in any
way be considered as part of the regular complement of the Bank. Rather, they were special workers under
Article 80 of the Labor Code. FEBTC contends that it never solicited the services of petitioners, whose
employment was merely an accommodation in response to the requests of government officials and civicminded citizens. They were told from the start that they could not become regular employees because there
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were no plantilla positions for money sorters, whose task used to be performed by tellers. Their contracts were
renewed several times, not because of need but merely for humanitarian reasons. Respondent submits that as
of the present, the special position that was created for the petitioners no longer exists, after the latter had
decided not to renew anymore their special employment contracts.
The petition is meritorious. Only the employees, who worked for more than six months and whose
contracts were renewed are deemed regular. Hence, their dismissal from employment was illegal.
According to private respondent, the employment contracts were prepared in accordance with Article 80 of the
Labor Code, which provides:
ART. 80. Employment agreement. Any employer who employs handicapped workers shall enter into an
employment agreement with them, which agreement shall include:
(a) The names and addresses of the handicapped workers to be employed;
(b) The rate to be paid the handicapped workers which shall be not less than seventy five (75%) per cent of the
applicable legal minimum wage;
(c) The duration of employment period; and
(d) The work to be performed by handicapped workers.
The employment agreement shall be subject to inspection by the Secretary of Labor or his duly authorized
representatives.

The stipulations in the employment contracts indubitably conform with the aforecited provision. Succeeding
events and the enactment of RA No. 7277 (the Magna Carta for Disabled Persons), however, justify the
application of Article 280 of the Labor Code. FEBTC entered into the contract with a total of 56 handicapped
workers and renewed the contracts of 37 of them. In fact, two of them worked from 1988 to 1993. Verily, the
renewal of the contracts of the handicapped workers and the hiring of others lead to the conclusion that their
tasks were beneficial and necessary to the bank. More important, these facts show that they were qualified to
perform the responsibilities of their positions. In other words, their disability did not render them unqualified or
unfit for the tasks assigned to them.
In this light, the Magna Carta for Disabled Persons mandates that a qualified disabled employee should be given
the same terms and conditions of employment as a qualified able-bodied person.
The fact that the employees were qualified disabled persons necessarily removes the employment contracts
from the ambit of Article 80. Since the Magna Carta accords them the rights of qualified able-bodied persons,
they are thus covered by Article 280 of the Labor Code.
ART. 280. Regular and Casual Employment. -- The provisions of written agreement to the contrary notwithstanding
and regardless of the oral agreement of the parties, an employment shall be deemed to be regular where the
employee has been engaged to perform activities which are usually necessary or desirable in the usual business or
trade of the employer, except where the employment has been fixed for a specific project or undertaking the
completion or termination of which has been determined at the time of the engagement of the employee or where
the work or services to be performed is seasonal in nature and the employment is for the duration of the season.
An employment shall be deemed to be casual if it is not covered by the preceding paragraph: Provided, That, any
employee who has rendered at least one year of service, whether such service is continuous or broken, shall be
considered as regular employee with respect to the activity in which he is employed and his employment shall
continue while such activity exists.

The primary standard of determining regular employment is the reasonable connection between the particular
activity performed by the employee in relation to the usual trade or business of the employer. The test is whether
the particular activity is usually necessary or desirable in the usual business or trade of the employer. The
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connection can be determined by considering the nature of the work performed and its relation to the scheme of
the particular business or trade in its entirety. Also if the employee has been performing the job for at least one
year, even if the performance is not continuous and merely intermittent, the law deems repeated and continuing
need for its performance as sufficient evidence of the necessity if not indispensability of that activity to the
business. Hence, the employment is considered regular, but only with respect to such activity, and while such
activity exists. (De Leon v. NLRC)
Without a doubt, the task of counting and sorting bills is necessary and desirable to the business of respondent
bank. The contract signed by petitioners is akin to a probationary employment, during which the bank determined
the employees fitness for the job. When the bank renewed the contract after the lapse of the six-month
probationary period, the employees thereby became regular employees. No employer is allowed to determine
indefinitely the fitness of its employees.
As regular employees, the 27 petitioners are entitled to security of tenure; that is, their services may be
terminated only for a just or authorized cause. Because respondent failed to show such cause, these 27
petitioners are deemed illegally dismissed and therefore entitled to back wages and reinstatement without loss of
seniority rights and other privileges. Considering the allegation of respondent that the job of money sorting is no
longer available because it has been assigned back to the tellers to whom it originally belonged, petitioners are
hereby awarded separation pay in lieu of reinstatement.